Summer is here and for many families that means the children will be at home more, and at school or in other structured activities less. Consequently, for many parents this also means added pressure to plan and organize your child's day.
For most of us the "Leave it to Beaver" lifestyle is nothing but the folklore of some long ago time. Those were the days when the stay-at-home mom sent the children off into the neighborhood each day after breakfast, knowing they would be safe until she called them in for lunch. She'd repeat this ritual each afternoon until the children returned for dinner. She had reasonable expectations that her children would be safe as they explored their suburban neighborhood on their own. If something were to occur there was always a reliable network of other moms within hearing distance who were there to support this casual, but effective, system of oversight.
Understandably, today young children need to always be closely monitored to insure the same level of protection and safety. But does it necessarily follow that their time and activity needs to be also managed and directed by the overseeing adults?
Is it really necessary, or desirable, for children to have so much of their time under the guidance and direction of adults? Without sacrificing any degree of safety, make it a goal this summer to gradually shift more of your child's day to her own control and direction. This can be especially challenging for children who've been raised to expect that the adults in their life will reliably plan and organize their every waking hour. They have come to expect that their time will be directed by a parent, teacher or caregiver. The opportunities for inspiration, creativity and self-motivation are greatly reduced in such arrangements. Instead children become overly adult-dependent and seldom experience times with nothing to do, nowhere to be, and all the challenges that come with such critical existential confrontations.
So this summer begin to gradually wean your child from expecting you to be his day planner, chauffeur and event organizer. Set aside times when nothing is planned, and he has to fend for himself. Be steadfast and don't be dissuaded by the almost certain whining and complaining that is to be expected when his addiction to your micromanaging his life has been confronted. There's no doubt that he (and you) will immeasurably benefit from learning to make independent decisions about what to do and how to direct his own time and activity. Among other things, she'll begin to learn that her life is her own, and that all the choices she makes have consequence. She'll begin to learn that she is ultimately responsible for her own happiness and satisfaction. And what a precious gift it is you will have offered.
A couple of years ago I was lucky enough to hear Rachel Simmons give a talk about girls and leadership. Simmons is the author of two influential books, Odd Girl Out and The Curse of the Good Girl, and founder of the Girls Leadership Institute, a summ... read more
My girls and I have started reading a book that’s new to all of us: Caddie Woodlawn. It tells the story of a girl in pioneer Wisconsin who plays in the woods and helps on the farm with her brothers, befriends the Indians, and defies the local bull... read more